Stories From 6881 Beechmont Avenue
Stories From 6881 Beechmont Avenue
In 1948, the German General Protestant Orphan Home purchased a 60-acre farm on the boundary of Mt. Washington and Anderson Township, a beautiful rural setting amid stately beech trees, where the children had been accustomed to camp for a few weeks each summer.
Board Chair Everett Townsley donated one-third of the purchase price for the new location, which came to be called Beech Acres. There were six cottages housing 10 to 12 children each and a handsome administration building arranged around a grassy circular lawn.
After a century on Burnet Avenue, in 1949 the Home moved to Anderson Township and evolved into the Beech Acres Parenting Center of today. But our driving force has remained the same from the start – to help children grow into capable, contributing, and caring adults.
We are excited about the move to a new centrally located headquarters site, located in Cincinnati and perfect for fulfilling today’s mission and meeting the needs of our community now and in the future.
We’ve had several people reach out with stories, memories, and recollections of our Anderson Township campus. We will be collecting and sharing those stories here.
“My first job when I graduated from Miami University in 1978 was working in the PR & Development Office as the Feast Assistant. My job was to assist with duties related to the Annual Feast. I never realized how much work went into this one-day event until I worked there. After the Feast in 1978, I stayed on and took on the newly created position of PR & Development Assistant. I was in that position until June 1982. I enjoyed those four years working with all the wonderful people on such a beautiful campus.” – Sue Roeding Lanter
“One of my favorite Beechmont memories was during my first year here at the Beech. I was teaching foster parent pre-service training one fall evening and noticed that all of the training participants facing the window were quite distracted. I gave the class a break and learned that the distraction was two bucks challenging one another at the flagpole in the center of the circle. It was as if the deer planned to meet at the flagpole and settle a dispute. The whole class took a break to watch for a few minutes. This memory stayed with me as one of the things I appreciate the most about 6881 Beechmont- appreciating the beauty and the ability to share the space with the wildlife that call the surrounding trees home.” – Jessica Thompson, LISW-S
“I am the daughter of two residents of General Protestant Orphan Home (Edna Liebert, 1936-1946) and Jack Whitt (1938-1946). My mother was one of 7 children (per GPOH, the largest family to ever reside at “The Home”), and my father was one of 3 boys, so that’s my parents and 8 aunts and uncles who shared their stories with their wide-eyed daughter/niece! They all had a father, but their mothers had died, which necessitated their entrance into “The Home.”
I grew up listening to stories of “The Home”. They were a big family who knew each other well! My memories include remarkable stories:
– my Dad always watching out for his youngest brother, who was 6 months old when they entered “The Home.”
– my Mom and her sisters learning about “female hygiene” from the matrons.
– my Dad and my Uncle playing duets (Dad was on trombone, my Uncle played trumpet) at special events, and especially playing Taps at funerals (Uncle Nelson would play the melody, Dad would play the echo).
– my Dad telling the story of how he proposed to my Mom while sitting on a stairway at “The Home.” Dad always said that “The Home” was the best thing that could have happened to him, given that his mom had died and they were in The Great Depression. He so appreciated the structure and support he received as he grew up.
I grew up attending “The Feast” every year. While Mom & Dad would spend time with many of the other “orphans,” we kids were allowed to ride rides and bet at the various booths. We always came home with baskets of food that many of us would win.
I could go on. My childhood memories are flooded with stories. I just hope I have been able to share a bit of what the history of Beech Acres/GPOH has meant to me. I guess coming full circle is that, although my parents are now gone, they certainly must be so proud of the fact that their granddaughter, my daughter, is now on the Board of Beech Acres.
I look forward to the lovely tribute coming up as you move on to a new location.” – Denice Whitt Yosafat
“My husband, BJ and I started our Foster Care journey right here on the Beechmont campus in 2016. On June 7th, 2016 we finished all requirements to become licensed and took our photo in front of the Kilgore building. We were filled with desire to make a difference in the lives of children and their families, and a hope to grow our family. Over the next few years, we opened our hearts and home to many children. We are now blessed with 5 children! Fast forward to this year… I stood in the green space in front of the Admin building with many of you, admiring my beautiful daughters Mariah and Aubree for their courage. Our daughter’s chose to share their foster care and adoption story to bring light to the need for foster families in our community. By doing so, they raised $5000 for our Foster Care and Adoption program through their “Flip for Foster care” fundraiser! My favorite part of the story, is that they delivered the check on June 7th, 2022 exactly 6 years from the date we finished our Foster Care classes. For their bravery, I joined my talented daughters and together we flipped in the green space showing support for their hard work!! I now have the honor and privilege to work alongside our Foster Care and Adoption team and all of you, by making a difference in the lives of others. We will cherish the special memories that we made here on this beautiful campus.” – Calena Durel
“We used to serve 50 kids per day at Leuder’s Cottage in the 2000’s. They came to us for a full school day to get education and mental health support together. The buses would pull in the circle one by one in the morning and drop off the kids for the day. We cooked breakfast and lunch for them in the kitchen we used when the residential kids lived on campus.”
“The babies and their parents connected with our Every Child Succeeds Program used to come on campus every October dressed in their sweet and cute costumes. They would walk around to the buildings trick-or-treating with all the staff. This was one of the best days to be on campus at 6881.”
“We had a cottage holiday decorating contest with guest judges. Teams in each cottage went “all out.” I remember Every Child Succeeds (Feldman Cottage) was decked out in all blue, including a blue disco ball in honor of Elvis’ holiday hit. Hall Cottage had a “home for the holidays” theme with an electric fireplace, flannel PJs, slippers, throw blankets, and beautiful holiday decorations. I remember the judges saying they had a hard time picking the winner. “
“I truly believe that Beech Acres Parenting Center has kept Big Apple Bagel in business. Anytime you go there for lunch, you always see a team member doing the same!”
“There used to be a walking club on campus that used to walk around the circle over and over again. They would meet at lunch and after work some days. Many of them would do 20-30 loops at a time! It was fun to watch them do laps on a regular basis (or join in with them).” – Jill Huynh, LSW, Vice President Parent Connext®
“I have countless fond memories of time spent at the Beechmont location, however the one that stands out the most was the inaugural Sharon James A Day of Awakening Joy event. What an amazing evening we shared coming together to remember Sharon as an extraordinary colleague and dear friend! This tribute genuinely captured the essence of Sharon and allowed us to honor and remember her in a very personal, heartfelt, special way.
Sharon truly embraced Beech Acres mission through her hard work, her passion, her collaborative nature, and most importantly, her devotion to the children, parents and families she served.
While it was an extremely sad and emotional night, it was also very powerful as you could truly feel that all who were present shared Sharon’s commitment to the mission and were deeply dedicated to meeting the needs of those we serve. It reminded me how lucky I am to be a part of the Beech Acres team!” – Sandi Pywen
“I do love driving through the circle on campus in the fall and seeing the beautiful foliage.” -Anonymous
“I started my journey with Beech Acres during the pandemic. The first time I went to the office, I was BLOWN AWAY! I immediately took a picture and shared in the family group chat.” -Anonymous
“I started my time at Beechacres on June 28, 1991. I was hired as a part-time children’s program worker, working nights and weekends for $7.31 an hour. After a while, I resigned from my full-time job at Cincinnati public schools, just like our CEO, to come to Beech Acres full-time. When I first came to the Beech, there was only one computer in the buildings, and only the administrative assistant used that. I have seen many program and space changes during my time here. The one constant was the beautiful green space at the Beech and the commitment to families and children. I remember well how Beech Acres came to the aid of families in New Richmond and the East end during the flood in 1997. Teams of employees went to the flooded area and cleaned up the mess left behind right by the sides of the National Guard that was called in. Through the generosity of Beech Acres donors and staff, families that were trapped in the upper floors of their homes were delivered meals and cleaning supplies a few times by row boat. Even the kids in the Uijma program came in groups with their teachers and counselors to aid their community. I was so proud to be an employee of Beech Acres during that time and now. I have other stories because of the length of time here, but this one I truly cherish because I am a product of the community that was ravaged by the river, and BA came to their aid.” -Anonymous
“This campus is my absolute favorite spot that I have ever worked in. The beauty of it sold me on day one! I was lucky enough to have a perfect little corner office with a bush outside one of the windows that changed with the seasons. I always enjoyed watching how that plant grew and changed and all the wildlife that would enjoy it throughout the year as well. It was perfect for grounding me on the rough days and simply admiring on the good days. I will miss that view and this gorgeous property.” -Anonymous
“I started at Beech Acres in 2001. I was located at the Dalton street building Partial program. The second day I worked, I brought microwave sausage for breakfast ( I had begun the Atkins diet.) I got distracted by a child running loose and left my sausage in the microwave; not sure what I timed it for when I got distracted. So by the time we rounded the child up, we had to have a fire drill because my sausage smoked up the whole area of the building; the fire department came and found my hockey puck-like sausage burned to a crisp in the microwave….needless to say, I admitted it was me and in the end, the placed smelled like burnt maple turkey sausage, and I was not successful with the Atkins diet, but I manage to remain with Beech Acres for 21 years without burning any of our facilities down.
I remember several years ago, Beech Acres celebrated improvements made at Townsley, one of which was the new carpet in the big meeting room and how it had been an eternity since it had been changed out. We had an all-staff the week after. They made such a big deal out of the improvement. I remember attending the all-staff, and the carpet change was noticeable. I got myself a cup of juice and sat in my chair ( the room was full of chairs only). I sat my cup of juice on the carpet to situate myself, and as I sat down and reached for my drink, I kicked it over. I felt so embarrassed knowing they made such a big deal out of the carpet, and I made this big stain. I looked around, hoping no one saw what happened ( the room had very few people in it) I looked across from me, and there was Mike McGuire eyewitness. He thought it was hilarious, I could not help but laugh at what had happened. We established a friendship of laughs throughout the years. That mishap was at the top.” -Anonymous
“One of the most meaningful moments I have ever experienced in my career was the Beech Acres Town Hall, which was soon after George Floyd was murdered. It was originally slated for a regular staff update, slated for an hour, but it quickly changed to a forum on the impact George Floyd’s murder had on all of us, especially African-American staff. I will never forget Jim Mason’s leadership and vulnerability he showed in front of 100 staff plus, as he admitted he had no idea how entitled he was as a white man in America, until this awful tragedy shed light on the deep racism that exists in our country. I was incredibly moved by the African-American staff who had the courage and strength to share their anxieties about being black in America, and how frightened they were for their children. I couldn’t believe the stories they shared of how they had been routinely discriminated their entire lives.
For me as an educated white woman, this open, honest, painful and very difficult conversation made me realize how truly entitled I have been my entire life. It opened my heart to learn more about racism and its ugly history, and how I could be an ally. My heart and mind were transformed that day, and I will never forget the impact it had on me, and how it changed my life and view on the struggles and challenges for people of color in America.” – Elise Hyder